The holy mountain Emei in the Sichuan Province is one of China’s four Buddhist sacred mountains. It is believed that Bodhisattva Samanthabhadra attained enlightenment. Apparently martial arts were first practiced here. This UNESCO heritage site has the first Buddhist temples in China dating from the 1st century CE among its seventy six remaining temples and monasteries. A remarkable feature here is that temples and monasteries do not follow accepted design norms for such structures but were built to take advantage of the natural landscape.
Mt Emei can be reached by train and bus from Chengdu from which there are regular services. Buses also go halfway up the mountain. Cable cars run from the bus stop to the summit. However many choose to hike. Although there are paved paths and steps the trail is steep and quite arduous and distances between monasteries can vary. Hikers need to aim for a monastery providing accommodation by sundown. Tired hikers can hire sedan chairs and be carried up the mountain. The convenient location of Anantara Emei Resort & Spa, a popular Sichuan hotel allows guests to easily enjoy the areas historic and natural attractions.
Among the attractions on the mountain is a large gold painted statue of Samanthabhadra, hidden temples, ancient artifacts and caves. But many go up to the 3,099 meter summit to see the sunrise and when the weather is right, the cloud sea, a vast area engulfed in clouds. The mountain is also an environmental hot spot with its sub arctic climate of long cold winters and cool summers. The most famous fauna here are the Tibetan Macaques. 200 species of plants of various families are also found on its slopes.
The current estimate is that it takes three days to visit the well known spots on the mountain. Many monasteries and guest houses along the hiking route have basic accommodation and facilities. The monasteries are known for delicious vegetarian meals. Small eateries along access paths also cater to visitor needs and hire crampons, warm clothing and bamboo poles to facilitate the journey in addition to basic food and drink.
Jayani Senanayake is a writer who dabbles in travel and all things exotic. Under the pseudonym of Caliope Sage, she writes of the allures that must simply be discovered.Google+